TLC is introducing a 6 part series called “Escaping Alaska” that uses the old Fish out of water idiom. Let’s take a bunch of young Alaska Natives and give them a taste of the city life. I have to admit I was at a total loss for words when I watched the video.
Lets break this down. In its first few moments TLC introduces the characters all in their parkas. Not driving trucks or cooking dinner , or watching DVD’s. Then they are saying that leaving the village is “considered treason”. *SIGHS* At this point I’m surprised that they don’t have some makeshift igloos, penguins, or pet polar bears.
To start off. I am Alaska Native. Born, Raised, and have traveled to the lower 48. I understand living in this state in Anchorage and the draw to travel. I cannot speak first-hand about the village life because I haven’t lived there.
In my travels I have defended our state against those who choose to lump our state in to one big stereotype. I’m all for accurate representation of our people, but and not like this. I want to see more roles for Native Americans on TV shows, in movies and other forms of media. This “Escaping Alaska” is a perspective I don’t want to see. It turned my stomach to watch. They are making Alaska Natives out to be some sheltered group of people with the same crayon that they colored “Breaking Amish”.
I Marvel when I think of TLC’s brainstorming session that led to this show. Do they know the size of the state? The diversity in the population? This is by definition a caricature of the Alaska Native culture. The big point that they are missing is that having your heritage and living outside of the village are not mutually exclusive. That seems to be the false premise that the show is based on
In this social media era we now live in. I’ve probably contributed more to it than it deserves. In these days even negative press garners attention. Attention leads to ratings. I hope for the sake of the young people that they have their a-ha moment because whether I watch the show or not I know on my next travel outside of the state I will have again defend against those who will watch.